Julie Roys Speaks Out: MacDonald’s Alleged Anger Issues and Christianity Today’s Coverage


Image by Ryan Ashton

Men in rage strike those that wish them best. – William Shakespeare, Othello, Act 2, Scene 3

I believe that James MacDonald/HBC is in trouble. In trouble with the lawsuit against TED/wives/Roys and maybe in even in deeper trouble than we could have imagined, given the revelation of allegations of concerning expressions of anger on the part of MacDonald. Until now, the only documentation available to us in any significant way was from TED. Now, Julie Roys weighs in with thoughtful research and makes something quite clear. James MacDonald and HBC have created quite a mess for themselves. It is a mess of their own making and, if the allegations are correct, it appears to be a mess brought on by serious anger and control issues. (In.My. Opinion-for any lawyers who are taking notes.)

Julie Roys responds on Twitter and in World Magazine

It has long been speculated that Roys was eventually going to post whatever it was that made MacDonald/HBC get their trebuchets in working order. The first lob was the infamous lawsuit. Everyone has been waiting to see what it was that made MacDonald add Roys to his naughty list.

Roys responded in a big way, insinuating that she had to endure the lawsuit in order to finish her work.

This tweet appears to indicate that the lawsuit is somehow connected to her research which produced the article at World Magazine: Hard times at HarvestFormer elders, pastors, and staffers from Chicago’s Harvest Bible Chapel accuse the church of financial mismanagement and a culture of deception and intimidation. Knowing what little I know about news media, I’m sure that World magazine had their lawyers carefully vet this article. Since everyone involved knew that a lawsuit was already involved, I am sure that the information shared in her article is pristine. That has led me to believe that James MacDonald is in deep trouble.

Financial mismanagement and donations of Mark Driscoll by Mac/HBC?

Whoa. Wasn’t the lawsuit against TED supposedly about TED’s refusal to recognize the *gospel* handling of finances by Mac/HBC?  Sure seems it to me. So, why is this article implying that HBC/HBF finances were problematic? Let me remind you that Mac/HBC will be required to prove that TED, their wives and Roys deliberately and knowingly lied about the financial situation of HBC. This article makes it more and more likely that TED was reasonable and even accurate in their assessment of *The Elephant Debt.*

Was Mac/HBC misusing funds of the entire Harvest Bible Fellowship to enrich just MacDonald’s church, HBC?

Remember when MacDonald was removed from his position (or did he resign?) from his position at Harvest Bible Fellowship? Was there more to the story? It appears so.

according to a leaked copy of a letter by David Wisen, a pastor at a former HBF church who participated in a July 2017 audit of HBF finances, the split occurred because HBF pastors believed Harvest had inappropriately used fellowship funds for its own purposes. (HBF was partly funded by member churches.) Wisen claimed Harvest owed HBF at least $1.8 million.

Bob Langdon, the former financial director of HBF who also participated in the audit, confirmed Wisen’s account. He said some of the items HBF paid for appeared to benefit Harvest Bible Chapel much more than the fellowship. For example, Langdon said HBF paid $500,000 for a church management systems upgrade that included new hardware for Harvest’s main campus in Elgin.

Money was given to Mark Driscoll for his new Scottsdale church.

This part of the report found me banging my head against the kitchen table which caused the pug dogs to run around in circles. MacDonald, a well known compadre of Mark Driscoll, allegedly gave him $50,000 for his new church in Scottsdale after Driscoll decided to flee the imploding Mars Hill. Mark Driscoll??? Seriously?

HBF also paid about $570,000 that Langdon said his boss, former Harvest Chief Financial Officer Fred Adams, had allocated for “overhead” and discretionary expenses. (Adams resigned at the end of 2017 and did not respond to a request for comment.) Langdon said those expenses included a percentage of the salaries for certain top Harvest Bible Chapel executives and a $50,000 donation to pastor Mark Driscoll’s Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Ariz

Then there is the question of shifting money between entities.

This mean one ministry will allow its income to be used by another separate ministry entity.  This can be a bit of a *no no* in the auditing world if donors are not made told hat designated donations might be shifted to a general fund. Perhaps the fine print said this?

Over the years, Harvest has brought entities like HBF and Walk in the Word, both of which were formerly independent nonprofits, beneath the control of Harvest leadership, allowing the church to shift money between the different entities.

For example, an audit of 2017 finances shows that when HBF disbanded, Harvest took $1 million from Walk in the Word to pay for HBF’s liabilities.

Weird example of possible questionable use of funds: Apparently, at Camp Harvest (one of the entities of HBF) money went to maintain a fenced trophy whitetail deer herd.

According to a web page Harvest posted on Oct. 30, people may hunt at the camp for $6,000-$8,000 per deer, with proceeds going to a Camp Harvest scholarship fund. Harvest would not answer a question from WORLD about the overall cost of establishing, fencing, and maintaining the deer herd, but acknowledged in a statement that Walk in the Word pays the camp “a small annual maintenance fee for food, etc.” for the herd “as a thank you gift to the church.”

The budget was overseen by a small group which included the executive committee and top staffers.

Why do I get the feeling that it would be difficult to find out how much the pastor made? I sure as heck wouldn’t ask him, given the new revelations of worrisome expressions of anger. I wonder if the committee was controlled by MacDonald. This is a set up for potential problems. Can you imagine denying MacDonald the 50 grand to give to Driscoll?

(The executive committee is composed of MacDonald and a group of four to five elders.) According to the church’s bylaws, the committee has “sole responsibility” for approving the annual budget and salaries for MacDonald and senior staff.

Rusty Leonard, founder of the donor watchdog group Ministry Watch, said the existence of a budget visible only to a handful of top elders and staffers is very unusual at a church and a reflection of “hideous governance.”

James MacDonald’s lifestyle.

TWW has long been aware that MacDonald lived an upscale lifestyle. For years, there seems to be a fair amount of chit chat all over the internet about his housing arrangements.This answer from Mac/HBC sounds a bit bogus to me.I t reminded me of Furtick’s *It isn’t that great of a house* debacle. Wait, wasn’t MacDonald friendly with Furtick?

MacDonald told WORLD that his new home, appraised at $1.4 million, is under 5,000 square feet when the new home’s garage and basement are subtracted from the total. But according to an appraisal that an attorney for MacDonald submitted to the Rutland Township tax assessor’s office, the home has 6,891 square feet of gross living area in addition to a 2,600 square-foot, 10-car garage and a more than 2,000-square-foot finished basement. (The appraisal also noted the home’s “vaulted and designer ceilings, high-end finishes, luxury bathrooms, [and] granite counter and vanity tops.”)

In written comments on the size of MacDonald’s home, Harvest told WORLD that “two second floor rooms were left unfinished with no utilities to meet his square footage goal.”

ECFA *Seal of Approval”

Both World magazine and Christianity Today commented that the ECFA continues to hold Mac/HBC as members in good standing. When I first started blogging in 2009, I wrote an article on this group when I found out that Franklin Graham’s salary of $1,000,000+. ECFA informed me that they had no problem with that nor did they seem to be concerned that there were a number of Graham’s family members on his board. That isn’t what they are there for…

ECFA standards are based on the principles of good governance, accountability, integrity and transparency, and do not place dollar limits on the compensation of its members’ leaders.

That was 9 years ago. I no longer pay any attention to their seal of approval. There are better groups out there, in my opinion.

James MacDonald appears to own the elders.

If this is true, I wold not recommend anyone to trust the oversight of elders at HBC. Good night!

in practice, MacDonald exercises ultimate authority. (Church bylaws, amended in 2015, provide for the removal of the senior pastor, but only by a unanimous vote of the full elder board and the executive committee on which MacDonald sits. The bylaws also grant the senior pastor the power to “act in an emergency to suspend any elder board member … subject to earliest possible ratification by the executive committee.”)

Former elders, staff  and church members allegedly stated they were abused when questioning leadership.

Do not join any church which does not allow a member to ask questions of the leadership. Mike Bryant, formerly a pastor of a church that was a member of the HBF, expressed concern over “MacDonald’s decision to invite televangelist T.D. Jakes to speak at MacDonald’s Elephant Room II conference.” The church was subsequently kicked out of HBF.

In an interview, MacDonald and Rick Donald told WORLD they regretted how they handled the expulsion of Bryant’s church, and would like a “private opportunity to apologize” to him.

I find it interesting that MacDonald admits to this event. This would seem to suggest that TED was correct in their assessment of the heavy handed tactics at HBC/HBF. I hope TED’s lawyers are taking notes.

One particularly uncomfortable situation occurred when a pastor decided to leave the church to start a new church. He was told to sign a noncompete resignation letter with a noncompete of a 50 mile radius. (This is rather extensive and probably would not able to be upheld in my experience.) He refused to do so. This pastor’s children were kicked out of the church run school forthwith.

It appears that this was over the alleged loss of people from HBCs church to this new church although that doesn’t appear to be the case (possibly 20.) This seems, once again, to be all about the Benjamins. Lawyers for TED, take note. Also, note the ridiculous response from the church.They sure can sling the rhetoric.

James MacDonald’s son, Executive Ministry Pastor Luke MacDonald, approached him after the service and accused him of recruiting people for his church plant. Maldaner said that when he denied recruiting anybody, Luke called him a “liar” in front of Lilly, his 6-year-old daughter, and bystanders in the auditorium. Former Harvest member Mark Gagliardi witnessed the incident and confirmed Maldaner’s account, though he said he couldn’t hear the entire conversation. (WORLD asked Harvest for a comment from Luke MacDonald: The church responded that the details of the conversation with Maldaner “are not a matter of public discussion and are covered in love.”)

Former pastors and staff are being threatened with legal action if they speak on record.

If this is true, it is obvious to me that Mac/HBC have much to hide. Why else would a Christian church threaten legal action and enforcement of nondisclosure agreements?  I used to think that NDAst were important because, stupid me, I was thinking like a nurse. I would want to keep the confidentiality of the folks who came for counseling.

But, unless I’m mistaken, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. It appears that Mac/HBC are concerned that embarrassing things will get out about how they run the church. If so, this isn’t a church. It appears to be an entity run for the convenience and pleasure of MacDonald, his family and assorted compadres. (Whoops- almost forgot-in my opinion. Lawyers look for that.)

OTHER FORMER HARVEST elders, staffers, and members declined to speak on the record, citing nondisclosure and nondisparagementagreements they said Harvest pressured them to sign when they left. In the past several weeks, Harvest also has sent letters to some former employees threatening “legal recourse” should they violate their “agreements with the church.”

Does James MacDonald have serious and even alarming anger issues? This is a new revelation.

I had heard that MacDonald could get angry but I didn’t know that it was alleged that he acted out on his anger to this extent. I suggest that you all read the entire article to the very end where these examples are recorded. Let me leave you with this one example. If it is true, I believe that MacDonald needs help before something really bad happens.

Betsy Corning, the wife of former elder board chairman Dave Corning, said that in 2009, when her husband was opposing a plan by MacDonald to reorganize the elder board, she made a disturbing discovery at the lake house at Camp Harvest. This was a home she said MacDonald and his wife, Kathy, often used for family retreats.

On a wall in the garage, she found a target with a photo of her on it that had been shot with what appeared to be a pellet gun. The target included photos of other people, including James and Kathy MacDonald. But what shook Betsy was that she and another elder’s wife appeared to be prime targets: Hand-written beside their images were point values of 50 and 200 points respectively, while everyone else was assigned nominal point values.

In a phone interview with WORLD, MacDonald said there was no correlation between the point values and he and Kathy’s “value and appreciation for those people.” Though he admitted shooting at the target with a pellet pistol with his wife and kids, MacDonald said it was “all in good fun,” and said the target involved “a bunch of pictures of our closest friends and family off the kitchen bulletin board. … I should have seen the potential for that to be taken the wrong way. The fact that we didn’t even take the photos down indicates that we weren’t concerned about it being misinterpreted.” He added that he had vacationed with the family of the other woman in the picture as recently as 2016.

MacDonald said he apologized to the offended parties when he became aware of the offense. According to Dave and Betsy Corning, though, MacDonald did not apologize, but instead demanded an apology from Betsy for telling the other elder’s wife about the target.

Christianity Today publishes an immediate response from James MacDonald.

In Harvest Bible Chapel Disputes World Investigation of James MacDonald: Former staff and elders criticize shuffling of funds and 50-mile noncompete clauses for former pastors.

The article reviews Julie Roys report in World Magazine and then proceeds to post the inevitable “Mistakes were made but all is cool” response from MacDonald

I think the response may be helpful to those who are being sued because the church admits to *things.*

The plurality of elders ploy (We’re godly, doncha know?)

Maybe they think by playing the *local* church card, the Reformed SBC Calvinistas will jump to their defense.

It is a sad day when once-credible Christian publications consider the opinions of a few disgruntled former members, already rehashed ad nauseam, of greater weight than the carefully expressed viewpoint of a plurality of local church Elders.

Forget about the lawsuit, we’re the good guys.

Read it. Then think about the knife incident above and the lawsuits.

We have chosen the high road and refused to engage in public assault

Ummm, they admit to a former poor governance system?

TED’s and Roys’ lawyers, take note.

the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel designed a system of Elder government filled with meaningful accountability for staff and active involvement of volunteer Elders that exceeds in every way the former system filled with conflicts of interest and poor decision making.

ROFL-love has nothing whatsoever to do with what is going on.

We will continue to “owe no man anything except to love” (Romans 13:8)

My opinion:

Roys, TED and their wives will prevail in the lawsuit. James MacDonald has admitted to failures and that will play against him. He will have to prove that they all knowingly lied. Can anyone believe that now after Roys’ article in World Magazine?

#macdropthelawsuit #IStandwithTED/wives/Roy

PS: Regarding the SBC 2019 Pastor’s Conference

To the SBC 2019 Pastors Conference on Kingdom Character. Why is James MacDonald speaking? Could you explain why he exemplifies *kingdom character” to us little guys who blog after midnight?

Today’s news cycle and current events require us to consider what it means to live faithfully as Christians and as pastors. The Beatitudes will be a needed reminder to all of us about the character of Christ-followers. Our conduct grows out of our character and in order to be the people of God advancing the Kingdom of God, we need to have Kingdom character.

With the large number of character issues that we have faced these last couple of years both in the SBC and ministry in general, it is appropriate to remind pastors of Jesus’ vision for the Christian life. It is a compelling and challenging vision reminding us of our own need for Jesus. We hope you will join us in Birmingham! We hope you will be challenged and encouraged in your walk with Christ as we look to Jesus together during these two days.

And they wonder why people leave the church…


Comments

Julie Roys Speaks Out: MacDonald’s Alleged Anger Issues and Christianity Today’s Coverage — 191 Comments

  1. The “plurality of elders” bit was one of my favorite parts of HBC’s propaganda statement today. A plurality the largest of a number of minorities in a situation in which there is no majority. Not exactly a picture of unity.

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  2. “This part of the report found me banging my head against the kitchen table which caused the plug dogs to run around in circles.”

    plug dogs???

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  3. Wow! Same old script all abusers and enablers use. Thanks for writing this. Does he look like CJ Mahaney with a goatee? I am getting my men and scandals mixed up. Bless Roys for her journalistic investigation. Well done! May truth come pouring out so fast and broad no law firm can contain it.

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  4. “(WORLD asked Harvest for a comment from Luke MacDonald: The church responded that the details of the conversation with Maldaner “are not a matter of public discussion and are covered in love.”)”
    +++++++++++++

    covered in love…

    might was well have been yogurt and chocolate buttons.

    Newspeak-thought-policing-schmucks, all of ’em

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  5. Cloak everything in Christian-ese, add a touch of condescension, and shift the narrative with as much torque as you can. That’s the script, followed even more closely than Willow ever did (before the board and remaining pastors succeeding Hybels, you know, repented and resigned).

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  6. In Canada where MacDonald is from, we chuckle about his buying into The American evangelical celebrity model led by notables Pat Robertson & Son, Jerry Falwell & Son, Billy Graham & Son, Jimmy Swaggert & Son & Grandson, John Hagee & Son, Older Osteen & Son Joel, John MacArthur & Son-in-law, Robert Tilson & Son, R.C.Sproul & Son, et al., just to name a few of the best known business tandems. Does Paula White have a Son? Is Sanford & Son still on TV?

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  7. “… On a wall in the garage, she found a target with a photo of her on it that had been shot with what appeared to be a pellet gun … she and another elder’s wife appeared to be prime targets: Hand-written beside their images were point values of 50 and 200 points respectively … Though he admitted shooting at the target with a pellet pistol with his wife and kids, MacDonald said it was “all in good fun” …”

    OK. I am now sufficiently creeped out about this guy.

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  8. Logan Frisco,

    I will give Scott milholland some grace, he did well long before he landed at harvest.
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  9. Logan Frisco,

    Milholland is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
    Hmmmm, HBC + MacDonald + Milholland file lawsuit, then Milholland announced that he’s going home to Texas…..

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  10. “This part of the report found me banging my head against the kitchen table which caused the pug dogs to run around in circles.”

    I hope drstevej is okay after all that commotion.

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  11. elastigirl:
    “(WORLD asked Harvest for a comment from Luke MacDonald: The church responded that the details of the conversation with Maldaner “are not a matter of public discussion and are covered in love.”)”
    +++++++++++++

    covered in love…

    might was well have been yogurt and chocolate buttons.

    Newspeak-thought-policing-schmucks, all of ’em

    IIRC, “love covers a multitude of sins”

    So perhaps this statement is a subtle admission of the character of the conversation.

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  12. Isn’t it about time for capable lawyers to address the legitimacy of the nondisclosure/nondisparagement clauses being used by modern churches to silence charges of abuse and misuse of authority? From my admittedly limited experience, nondisclosure agreements have been repeatedly not upheld in courts of law, as the freedom of the individual to engage in legitimate commerce has been judged more important than ‘safeguarding’ competing interests. Surely it is one thing to safeguard the privacy of counseling issues that a former pastoral staff member might be privy to, and quite another to demand that all legitimate accusations of misconduct are ‘out of bounds’ due to ‘nondisclosure’ agreements? NDA were never intended, nor do I think they would be deemed legally binding as a means to hide financial or other improprieties. IMO, this needs to be addressed, and people who are being ‘silenced’ need to feel free to speak the truth.

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  13. James MacDonald comes pretty close to inciting me to denounce Christianity altogether. And guess what? His narcissistic, self-serving behavior suggests that this may be his deeper agenda. If these ‘false shepherds’ serve another master, should we be surprised when both the institution of the church and the individuals within her are seriously harmed by them?

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  14. TS00,

    Even if, granting the hypothesis, such contracts are not enforceable, their existence and the implied threat of litigation by the more powerful party can have the desired effect of ensuring silence (in the case of NDAs) or deterring employment in related fields (in the case of non-competes). The cost of defeating the attempt by the more powerful party to enforce such a contract could be ruinous to the weaker party.

    I think that it’s a gross abuse of power; it’s a grievous thought that self-described christian churches employ methods like this. These do not appear to me to be weapons of righteousness in the left hand and right.

    I don’t have a whole lot of hope for the future of the churches of US. It is quite conceivable to me that God stands in opposition to many of them.

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  15. Is Christianity Today a tool of Harvest Bible Church? It’s located in Carol Stream, IL, which is a suburb of Chicago. As is HBC. Hmmm. The plot thickens.

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  16. Quote: “Knowing what little I know about news media, I’m sure that World magazine had their lawyers carefully vet this article. Since everyone involved knew that a lawsuit was already involved…”

    As a result of the above, I am guessing that there was much that was left unreported… so IMHO this news story is just the tip of the iceberg.

    As for the church taking the “high road”… who would have guessed that law suits are the high road???

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  17. Mary27:
    Quote: “Knowing what little I know about news media, I’m sure that World magazine had their lawyers carefully vet this article. Since everyone involved knew that a lawsuit was already involved…”

    As a result of the above, I am guessing that there was much that was left unreported… so IMHO this news story is just the tip of the iceberg.

    As for the church taking the “high road”… who would have guessed that law suits are the high road???

    I scratch my head a bit in contemplation of the mindset that it would a wise thing to bring a legal action against an investigative journalist. Investigative journalists tend to be good at … um… “discovery.”

    A question for legal experts among the readership: under Illinois law, are civil trial records public? (The motions appear to be public; some have been posted at TED) If they are, would it follow that evidence produced during discovery and introduced at trial is part of the public record?

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  18. When I was at Harvest, a high ranking guy there said (this is very close, though perhaps not an exact quote): ‘We will use lawyers and send out cease and desist letters when someone violates a Harvest trademark or other legal matter. But that’s mostly for show and that’s as far as we’d take it. Hopefully that would persuade them to stop. We’d never actually sue. That would be unbiblical.’

    Of course, the guy who said that is no longer employed at Harvest.

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  19. Former Harvest Guy: When I was at Harvest, a high ranking guy there said (this is very close, though perhaps not an exact quote): ‘We will use lawyers and send out cease and desist letters when someone violates a Harvest trademark or other legal matter. But that’s mostly for show and that’s as far as we’d take it. Hopefully that would persuade them to stop. We’d never actually sue. That would be unbiblical.’

    Control, intimidation and manipulation of other Christians are unbiblical, too. Such leadership depends on a spirit of fear, rather than love. Wherever you find it, you can know it’s not of God.

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  20. Ken P.: I think that James MacDonald may be Mark Driscoll’s long-lost older brother.

    Somewhere the other day, I saw a photo of JMac showing off his Vertical Church tattoo to the potty-mouth preacher from Seattle. Two peas in a pod. They are just too cool! Speaking of “cool”, that word just doesn’t fit with Christianity, IMO. Jesus was not cool, the disciples were not cool, a pursuit of holiness by believers is not a cool endeavor. In the church’s attempt to be cool and culturally-relevant, it has become Christianity Lite … not much salt in the salt they serve.

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  21. Max: Somewhere the other day, I saw a photo of JMac showing off his Vertical Church tattoo to the potty-mouth preacher from Seattle.Two peas in a pod.They are just too cool!Speaking of “cool”, that word just doesn’t fit with Christianity, IMO.Jesus was not cool, the disciples were not cool, a pursuit of holiness by believers is not a cool endeavor.In the church’s attempt to be cool and culturally-relevant, it has become Christianity Lite … not much salt in the salt they serve.

    Looking closely at the synoptic narratives where they touch on the apostles’ relationships with each other and with Jesus, one gets a strong impression that many or most (perhaps all) of the apostles were, prior to the crucifixion (and perhaps for a while afterwards), “in it for themselves.” They seem to have wanted high status and authority in a coming “Jesus administration” that would visibly rule over Israel. Jesus was grieved by their attitude, which did not change, it seems, until around the time of Pentecost. (I wonder whether what may have happened is that they finally repented, after weeks of prayer and mourning, and that’s what made the Spirit’s descent in power possible).

    It’s bit disheartening to think that one may perceive a similarity between the pre-Pentecost apostles and some of the great men of US christianity in our day.

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  22. Max: Jesus was not cool, the disciples were not cool, a pursuit of holiness by believers is not a cool endeavor.

    One of our youth minsters preached that we had the wrong idea about the young Jesus being this nerdy outsider who spent all his time studying scrolls. “I think Jesus was one of the guys!” he proclaimed. My nerdy outsider heart sank.

    Decades later, I see that our youth minister was prescient. Dudebro Jesus has charisma and awesome tats! That 12-year-old kid teaching the rabbis in the temple (Luke 2:39-52)? We’ll skip over him.

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  23. TS00,

    Just never denounce Jesus! Hold tight I believe God it is doing the shaking to expose these wolves!! It’s the people who continue to support these godless men that need to wake up!! But I believe many many in his church are not Christians at all. They think they are but they really just want to be part of a club! McDonald has an abusive fatherloke leadership that attracts people who want to think they are a part of something big!

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  24. James Mcdoanld has now slauntered down to Naples Florida one of the richest areas in Florida by the way. And is now preaching from Naples Jan-March. This guy has it made! He uses summer Michigan homes now a winter stint and still gets to keep on preaching and the poor yaps in chicago will be paying his bills as is sermons are sent to their church screens in chilly Chicago . Haha it’s is ridiculous it is funny!!

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  25. Ann: … now sauntered down to Naples Florida … Jan-March … This guy has it made! He uses summer Michigan homes now a winter stint and still gets to keep on preaching and the poor yaps in chicago will be paying his bills as his sermons are sent to their church screens in chilly Chicago .

    Celebrity preachers would have no stage if it weren’t for an audience willing to buy the ticket. Gullibility is at an all-time high in the American church. Oh, but the music is so cool!

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  26. Friend: One of our youth ministers preached that we had the wrong idea about the young Jesus being this nerdy outsider who spent all his time studying scrolls. “I think Jesus was one of the guys!” … Dudebro Jesus has charisma and awesome tats!

    Your youth minister obviously grew up listening to Mark Driscoll, rather than reading the Gospels. The potty-mouth preacher from Seattle lives on in the spirits of his followers across America.

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  27. Samuel Conner: (I wonder whether what may have happened is that they finally repented, after weeks of prayer and mourning, and that’s what made the Spirit’s descent in power possible)

    Certainly! The 21st century church suffers from the same ailment, lack of repentance. Have you ever wondered why there is no power resting on the church today? No prayer, no repentance, no power. We have been busy organizing, rather than agonizing. There is no revival nor spiritual awakening in the land because the church is satisfied to live without it.

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  28. Ann: This guy has it made!

    I was young and now am old. Along the way, I’ve learned that anyone with a gift of gab, a touch of charisma (or a gimmick), a working knowledge of the Bible, and a gullible group of followers can be a preacher … whether they are called to that sacred office or not. Yep, there are a lot of preachers in America who have it made!

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  29. Max: Your youth minister obviously grew up listening to Mark Driscoll

    More likely the other way around. Our youth minister was preaching this cr*p when Mark Driscoll was still in diapers. We youth group kids were like lab rats for the later mega and Quiverfull movements. The youth ministers were using us for something like a stealth takeover of a mainline Protestant church. In their defense (ha!), I’m not sure they knew what they were doing.

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  30. Friend: Our youth minister was preaching this cr*p when Mark Driscoll was still in diapers.

    Yep, there have always radicals pushing the boundaries with another gospel. Unfortunately, some of them have taken hold … consider this New Calvinism, for example.

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  31. Max: Celebrity preachers would have no stage if it weren’t for an audience willing to buy the ticket.Gullibility is at an all-time high in the American church.Oh, but the music is so cool!

    This is really the next level of reflection for me. There are large numbers who consume Christianity and pick churches because of the Sunday show, a great musical set and a celebrity preacher. We’ve become willing to have the pastor’s message piped in from across the country and we watch the sermon on TV. No personal connection to the preacher at all. We’ve bought into this. There would be no Harvest brand if people weren’t buying it. I guess it’s common to assume that if the music is good and the preacher is charismatic, and the auditorium is full, it must be blessed by God and doing everything right.

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  32. Joe: I guess it’s common to assume that if the music is good and the preacher is charismatic, and the auditorium is full, it must be blessed by God and doing everything right.

    “He gave them what they wanted, but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps 106:15)

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  33. Joe: if the music is good

    Look closely at mega-mania-ministry in America. Most would not exist if it weren’t for a charismatic “worship” leader and his cool back-up band. In some situations, they are more important to the brand than the celebrity pastor! The Great God of Entertainment is on the throne.

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  34. Max,

    “In the church’s attempt to be cool and culturally-relevant, it has become Christianity Lite … not much salt in the salt they serve.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    well, it’s just like junior high.

    where a trend takes hold, & the pre-teenagers see their peers wearing this and doing their hair like this, with this kind of backpack worn only on one shoulder like this, and then you walk like this, and say this

    then all of a sudden, pre-teen shows up to school sporting the trend themselves, self-consciously trying to emulate the walk, trying on the new language.

    all with an air of “oh, i’m always like this, this is just me… been this way for years”.

    or, fast-food chains suddenly pretending to be little Starbucks, same coffee lingo & all.

    or church. pretending. dressing it all up and God, too, with all the looks & lingo & swagger. and promoting it all as “real life”.

    i think i feel sick.

    like the memory of when i first smelled fermaldehyde in 7th grade biology (speaking of jr. high…).

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  35. elastigirl: i think i feel sick.

    like the memory of when i first smelled formaldehyde in 7th grade biology

    I remember that smell, too! I get a similar sensation when I visit some of the newfangled churches with their pretty-boy preachers, cool bands, and “worship” teams in tight pants … chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and other irritation. Guess I’m getting too old … I’m no longer culturally-relevant.

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  36. Joe,

    “the Sunday show, a great musical set and a celebrity preacher. We’ve become willing to have the pastor’s message piped in from across the country and we watch the sermon on TV. No personal connection to the preacher at all.”
    +++++++++++++

    isn’t it silly.

    but why all the fuss about a preacher? who needs a preacher, whether there’s a personal connection or not? why reduce a whole religion down to a “Johnny Carson”?

    i get more out of discussing a topic with others than i ever did sort-of-listening to a preacher. after a busy and tiring week, who can really pay attention for that long, anyway?

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  37. Max: I was young and now am old.Along the way, I’ve learned that anyone with a gift of gab, a touch of charisma (or a gimmick), a working knowledge of the Bible, and a gullible group of followers can be a preacher … whether they are called to that sacred office or not.Yep, there are a lot of preachers in America who have it made!

    This is a huge part of the problem, IMHO. I call it ‘Freelance Evangelical Church’. Anyone can start a ‘church’, with whatever mish-mash of cherrypicked prooftexts tickles their vanity. Oh, and they do. And how can a megachurch be a church? How can a ‘church’ with its pastor making high 6-figures living in a million dollar mansion POSSIBLY be a church? It has become one big money/power grab, and I want nothing to do with it, whatsoever.

    Talk about using the Lord’s name in vain… these folks might start thinking about some of the stuff they prance about on the stage ‘preaching’.

    Except they are so very clearly not believers in anything besides themselves. If they were, they would drop to their knees, prostrate themselves, and cry out to God for forgiven for what they have done to his Word.

    How can anyone look at the ‘ministries’ of JM and Furtick, and Driscoll, and Jakes and Osteen and on and on and on, and possibly imagine that they can in any way be Christian believers? They are a bunch of very successful grifters, that’s all. Very rich. Very powerful in their worlds. Very very lost. They are playing with something much more potent than fire. And I believe they are really making a mockery of Christ, and greatly damaging the Church.

    OK. I’m done now.

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  38. How very disturbing and the similarities to Mars Hills are very obvious. We know what happened there so we know where this is ultimately heading. The most disturbing thing I saw in the World article is how MacDonald literally shot at pictures of current employees and took a knife to a picture of a former one. He did this in front of others to intimidate them. Wow! That goes way beyond any of the Driscoll stories I have read. This guy is very disturbing. He is no Christian. His praxy shows who his father is. Nothing has changed in two millennia. Wicked men still desire positions of power in order to steal God’s sheep away from Him. The unrepentant narcissism is clear to all. This is a characteristic of the Devil, not any Christian.

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  39. roebuck: Talk about using the Lord’s name in vain…

    Until Ananias and Sapphira start dropping dead in church again, I suppose we will have to put up with the Christian Industrial Complex and its misbehaving.

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  40. Mr. Jesperson: The most disturbing thing I saw in the World article is how MacDonald literally shot at pictures of current employees and took a knife to a picture of a former one.

    “Took a knife to a picture of a former one” over a dozen times, apparently in a frenzy.

    Maybe I’ve been reading too much Manly Wade Wellman; maybe my other writing partner’s been telling me too much Pennsylvania Dutch lore; but my first response to hearing that was to wonder if the picture had locks of hair, fingernail clippings, or small personal belongings of the person attached to it.

    You see, in both Appalachian and PA Dutch folk-magic traditions, THAT is a way to put a death hex on the person pictured. The Witch-Man/Hexerai stabs the picture (or poppet/”voodoo doll”) and the damage is done to the person pictured for real.

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  41. roebuck: I call it ‘Freelance Evangelical Church’. Anyone can start a ‘church’, with whatever mish-mash of cherrypicked prooftexts tickles their vanity. Oh, and they do.

    “Writing for a penny a word is stupid. If you want to make a million dollars, Start Your Own Religion.”
    — L Ron Hubbard, shortly before Dianetics

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  42. Max: Celebrity preachers would have no stage if it weren’t for an audience willing to buy the ticket. Gullibility is at an all-time high in the American church.

    “I go chop you dollar,
    I make you money disappear;
    Four-One-Nine just a game,
    You be the Mugu,
    I be the Masta!”
    — Nigerian pop song about a con man (from the con man’s POV)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG57mPMiJvw

    Mugu = Fool, in the sense of an easy mark
    Four-One-Nine = swindle
    National Airport = reference to the biggest swindle in Nigerian history, a “Sell the Brooklyn Bridge”-type scam

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  43. Ann:
    James Mcdoanld has now slauntered down to Naples Florida one of the richest areas in Florida by the way. And is now preaching from Naples Jan-March. This guy has it made! He uses summer Michigan homes now a winter stint and still gets to keep on preaching and the poor yaps in chicago will be paying his bills as is sermons are sent to their church screens in chilly Chicago . Haha it’s is ridiculous it is funny!!

    “You be the Mugu,
    I be The Masta!”

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  44. Mr. Jesperson: The most disturbing thing I saw in the World article is how MacDonald literally shot at pictures of current employees and took a knife to a picture of a former one. He did this in front of others to intimidate them.

    Whew! There must be a Scripture for this sort of thing! To HBC members who don’t have a problem with this sort of behavior by your pastor, you’re just as sick.

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  45. drstevej: “This part of the report found me banging my head against the kitchen table which caused the plug dogs to run around in circles.”

    plug dogs???

    This working dog breed originated in Holland and was instrumental in keeping at bay seawater seepage into lowlying country. Today, any farmer with a dodgy dam will have a plug dog or two on the property for insurance.

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  46. TS00: James MacDonald comes pretty close to inciting me to denounce Christianity altogether.

    I never got to that point even at the nadir of my disillusionment with the Calvary Chapel cult.

    I think it’s because of my visceral connection (in every sense of what ‘flesh’ implies) with Jesus of Nazareth.

    It enabled me to look past Patristics (what the early church fathers had to say), the luminaries of the Reformation, and most of all, our present day clergy and ideologues.

    From there, I’ve hatched my own working and living definition of ‘Christianity’.

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  47. Max: Until Ananias and Sapphira start dropping dead in church again, I suppose we will have to put up with the Christian Industrial Complex and its misbehaving.

    The problem is encapsulated by the number of instances in which Ananias (and, where she can, Sapphira) runs “the church”.

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  48. Max: Until Ananias and Sapphira start dropping dead in church again

    A few scholars believe this was a cautionary tale of murder. Assuming this is so, was it meant to intimidate others into giving, or frighten them into being honest? Either way, it strikes me as a tale that can be used to manipulate. If it were ever preached in my church during a stewardship campaign, I’d probably leave town.

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  49. Muff Potter: I think it’s because of my visceral connection (in every sense of what ‘flesh’ implies) with Jesus of Nazareth.

    I find myself in an odd position these days; one that you may, at least to some extent, recognise. If indeed there is a God, who became human, and specifically who became Jesus of Nazareth, that changes everything. There is something about him. He is, to paraphrase Brother Andrew, a King I would follow into any battle.

    The last place I’d expect to find such a King is in christian circles, of course. Christians are very nearly unanimous in their agreement that “Jesus” is a “king” for ceremonial purposes only. I’d always looked for something closer to what I read in the Gospel accounts, but hey; I’m just a ***kwit.

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  50. Friend,

    elastigirl: why reduce a whole religion down to a “Johnny Carson”?

    Friend: Hmm… or maybe Jimmy Kimmel during his days on “The Man Show”? (NOT Christian viewing.)
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    never seen jimmy kimmel in anything (except in commercials during the Olympics a few years ago — seemed pretty naturally funny).

    (stopped watching TV in college due to lack of time… never really started it back up again. except for PBS and all the great BBC things they show. & The Olympics)

    speaking to the air, here:

    i am totally bugged by evangelical christian culture making icons out of pastors and preachers (in the same way Johnny Carson is the icon for late night talk shows), who represent the whole religion of Christianity.

    It’s certainly not Jesus.

    No, it’s not (i heard the protest out there somewhere).

    Jesus is an idea that indirectly informs what the icons talk about.

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  51. elastigirl,

    what bugs me is how disingenuous professional christians are. you can say it’s all about Jesus and for his fame. i don’t believe you.

    i could articulate a very good argument for what would be readily observable (and in the quiet background) if the enterprise truly was all about Jesus and for his fame.

    these things simply are not part of the current equation.

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  52. elastigirl: i could articulate a very good argument for what would be readily observable (and in the quiet background) if the enterprise truly was all about Jesus and for his fame.

    My favorite services are Sunday evening contemplative, or midweek Communion at noon. Both types are a fame-free zone.

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  53. Whatever McDonald is capable of will now be seen as his cover is blown. Now the REAL James will be seen….by all who worked for him. Adversity exposes character…or the lack of it. Also greed….when the money stops coming in. Stand by for the ride…

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  54. elastigirl: if the enterprise truly was all about Jesus and for his fame …

    … there would be no celebrity preachers, mega-mania-ministries, and a multi-million dollar Christian Industrial Complex. I wonder how much longer it will take for American Christians to forsake religious entertainment, repent and return to Jesus?

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  55. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    Nothing sinister there. CT’s headquartering in the Chicago area goes back to the post-WW2 era when Chicago was the epicenter of evangelicalism as a whole, with institutions such as Wheaton College as anchors. It was Billy Graham who founded CT; I doubt he and MacDonald would have gotten on very well.

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  56. Abigail: Now the REAL James will be seen….by all who worked for him.

    IMO, I suspect that all who work for him know exactly who he is. The road is cluttered with the carcasses of brave souls who challenged him along the way. Those who hung on are restrained by control, intimidation, and manipulation (which are not fruit of the Spirit).

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  57. Nick Bulbeck: I find myself in an odd position these days; one that you may, at least to some extent, recognise. If indeed there is a God, who became human, and specifically who became Jesus of Nazareth, that changes everything. There is something about him. He is, to paraphrase Brother Andrew, a King I would follow into any battle.

    The last place I’d expect to find such a King is in christian circles, of course. Christians are very nearly unanimous in their agreement that “Jesus” is a “king” for ceremonial purposes only. I’d always looked for something closer to what I read in the Gospel accounts, but hey; I’m just a ***kwit.

    30 years ago, when I was affiliated with a small congregation of the EFCA, a wise older sister posed this question during a group retreat, “if Jesus were to appear among us today, would we recognize Him?” This was a small congregation with, as far as I can tell, none of the pathologies that afflict the present churches in North America. In our discussion, we came to the uneasy consensus that we might not recognize Jesus, and perhaps might not want Him around.

    You’re not alone, Nick.

    You might appreciate Andrew Perriman’s ‘blog “P.OST.” I came across him at the ‘blogroll of Internet Monk, who is on the TWW ‘blogroll. That’s a 2nd-order “endorsement” and perhaps the Deebs would not regard him as favorably as IM does. He is very thought-provoking.

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  58. the 50k donation was news even to me, and the significance of the donation would take, did take 5787 words to explain.

    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2018/12/julie-roys-article-at-world-mentions.html

    MacDonald was at one point part of a group that was supposed to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing or disqualification on the part of Mark Driscoll. MacDonald’s summer 2014 resignation from the BoAA happened about the same time as the resignation of Paul Tripp. Whereas Paul Tripp stated the BoAA could not do what it was designed to do, MacDonald categorically wrote “I believe in Mark Driscoll … .”

    Put in a somewhat long day of writing today. The recent WORLD coverage was a lot to take in and it got me thinking again about a few things.

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  59. Mike: CT’s headquartering in the Chicago area goes back to the post-WW2 era when Chicago was the epicenter of evangelicalism as a whole, with institutions such as Wheaton College as anchors. It was Billy Graham who founded CT

    ‘Christianity Today’ did not move to the Chicago area until the late 1970s. It was a Washington, DC outfit for many years.

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  60. TS00:
    James MacDonald comes pretty close to inciting me to denounce Christianity altogether. And guess what? His narcissistic, self-serving behavior suggests that this may be his deeper agenda. If these ‘false shepherds’ serve another master, should we be surprised when both the institution of the church and the individuals within her are seriously harmed by them?

    It’s the leadership paradox. We cannot or will not tolerate a leader who lacks self-confidence, but a leader’s self-confidence eventually proves to be the very thing we abhor, and often leading to their downfall.
    Maranatha!

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  61. elastigirl: well, it’s just like junior high.

    where a trend takes hold, & the pre-teenagers see their peers wearing this and doing their hair like this, with this kind of backpack worn only on one shoulder like this, and then you walk like this, and say this…

    then all of a sudden, pre-teen shows up to school sporting the trend themselves, self-consciously trying to emulate the walk, trying on the new language.

    all with an air of “oh, i’m always like this, this is just me… been this way for years”.

    or, fast-food chains suddenly pretending to be little Starbucks, same coffee lingo & all.

    or church. pretending. dressing it all up and God, too, with all the looks & lingo & swagger. and promoting it all as “real life”.

    i think i feel sick.

    I believe this is very astute. I, and perhaps many other commenters, am old enough to see this as something very fake, immature and unhealthy.

    Then there are the ‘seekers’ who have no ‘God’ background. Like my niece, who was raised by my brother (who once planned to be a pastor) and his wife with no spiritual teaching of any sort. This is all new, exciting, dizzying. She used to contact me quite frequently, asking my opinion on a particular book or teaching that somehow gave her reason to doubt its validity. They have gone from church to church, looking for something authentic and that allows them to poor their time, talents and money into things that matter. And there’s the catch.

    These churches brainwash their cultlike followers to come, enjoy the show and rest assured that by giving their money, they are allowing ‘The Church’ to do the work of God. I really think many of these people mean well, and simply don’t know any better.

    Anyway, that’s just me thinking out loud, as I tend to dismiss the institution of the organized church. But I believe that there are many therein, whose eyes God desires to open so that they can be ‘saved’ from the deception and manipulation they have naively submitted themselves to. Just as Jesus came to rescue the sheep who were being abused and consumed by the false shepherds of Israel who they implicitly trusted as Men of Gawd.

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  62. Ann: TS00,

    Just never denounce Jesus! Hold tight I believe God it is doing the shaking to expose these wolves!! It’s the people who continue to support these godless men that need to wake up!! But I believe many many in his church are not Christians at all. They think they are but they really just want to be part of a club! McDonald has an abusive fatherlon,ke leadership that attracts people who want to think they are a part of something big!

    Ann, I appreciate your concern. No, I do not equate men with God. Nor do I equate any institution built by men with the Body of Christ. That, I believe, is the mistake – the false claim of those who have used The Church for their own ends – that God is now making clear. I have no doubt in the goodness and trustworthiness of God. Now men are a completely different thing . . .

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  63. elastigirl: but why all the fuss about a preacher? who needs a preacher, whether there’s a personal connection or not? why reduce a whole religion down to a “Johnny Carson”?

    i get more out of discussing a topic with others than i ever did sort-of-listening to a preacher. after a busy and tiring week, who can really pay attention for that long, anyway?

    Exactly! It isn’t that I think I know it all, or am too arrogant to learn from others – but I am unwilling to be forcefed, with no ability to question, challenge or interact – one person’s personal opinions. I see neither the biblical precedent nor the value of one so-called teacher doing all of the hard study and everyone else coming weekly to absorb whatever he believes to be trustworthy and true. I am willing to listen to all sorts of opinions, and learn from people with whom I disagree on some points. I was reading a blog I follow earlier, and one commenter, who has many beliefs I do not share, explained a concept that was so insightful, and so rarely taught that I was literally moved to tears. I am eager to hear what people have to say, and ponder things that seem radically wrong at first hearing. But I refuse to turn off my own brain and submit to someone else’s opinion as orthodox truth. Whether they call themselves Pope, James MacDonald or anything else.

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  64. Mr. Jesperson: How very disturbing and the similarities to Mars Hills are very obvious. We know what happened there so we know where this is ultimately heading. The most disturbing thing I saw in the World article is how MacDonald literally shot at pictures of current employees and took a knife to a picture of a former one. He did this in front of others to intimidate them. Wow!

    This is indeed disturbing. If there is any evidence that this is true – and I am not doubting that there is – MacDonald should be confronted immediately, and publicly, by his entire board of elders who should – in a live, congregational gathering – demand that he step down. The only possible way to force him out is for the entire board to publicly stand him down, forcing him to cast the sole lone vote against his own dismissal. I cannot even imagine what sort of severance package he has built in for himself.

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  65. TS00,

    Amen. Amen. And Amen.
    (Yet they’re spineless…so they won’t).

    I’m not sure what’s more troubling?!?

    a) the truth about James MacDonald

    b) Goons like Rick Donald, Jeff Donaldson and other so-called men of God who continue to aid and abet a fellow goon.

    c) the blind, deaf, and dumb sheep in the congregation who refuse to recognize what’s so obvious to folks like the Corning’s, Stowell’s, and hundreds of others who personally have had a front row seat to MacDonald’s shenanigans down through the decades.

    Oh, wait. I forgot. Your friends are there. And your kids are growing. And.

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  66. Joe,

    Amen.

    I’m not sure what’s more troubling?!?

    a) the truth about James MacDonald

    b) Goons like Rick Donald, Jeff Donaldson and other so-called men of God who continue to aid and abet a fellow goon.

    c) the blind, deaf, and dumb sheep in the congregation who refuse to recognize what’s so obvious to folks like the Corning’s, Stowell’s, and hundreds of others who personally have had a front row seat to MacDonald’s shenanigans down through the decades.

    Oh, wait. I forgot. Your friends are there. And your kids are growing. And.

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  67. TS00: Exactly! It isn’t that I think I know it all, or am too arrogant to learn from others – but I am unwilling to be forcefed, with no ability to question, challenge or interact – one person’s personal opinions. I see neither the biblical precedent nor the value of one so-called teacher doing all of the hard study and everyone else coming weekly to absorb whatever he believes to be trustworthy and true. I am willing to listen to all sorts of opinions, and learn from people with whom I disagree on some points. I was reading a blog I follow earlier, and one commenter, who has many beliefs I do not share, explained a concept that was so insightful, and so rarely taught that I was literally moved to tears. I am eager to hear what people have to say, and ponder things that seem radically wrong at first hearing. But I refuse to turn off my own brain and submit to someone else’s opinion as orthodox truth. Whether they call themselves Pope, James MacDonald or anything else.

    IFAIK, 1 Corinthians is the only NT text that gives us anything approaching a clear glimpse into “what actually was done” in the periodic meetings of the gentile churches of the apostolic era. Granting that Paul found a great deal to criticize in their praxis, it appears that that the meetings were much more participatory and group-focused than ours are today.

    I think that the NT writers would be dismayed by most of what they see in the weekly gatherings of present day churches. The closest NT parallel to present day practice might be the very beginning of the Jerusalem church, where large numbers of new converts were being catechized. But another feature of the Jerusalem church, the radical sharing of possessions with needy believers, is deprecated in our day in favor of funding the local hyper-apostle’s “vision” (the financial details of which may be “not for public consumption”).

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  68. Regarding the disturbing descriptions of violence acted out against representations of perceived enemies, I have to wonder

    how does this instantiate the teaching and example of Jesus, who commanded to love one’s enemies, to do good, speak well (“bless”) and pray for them?

    As has been noted, this looked more like a pagan form of ritual vengeance-seeking.

    Oh yes, we’re also commanded to not seek vengeance but to leave room for the manifestation of the wrath of God.

    I suspect that Romans 1 style wrath of God may come into view before long, but not against the people whose images were mutilated.

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  69. TS00,

    The funny part of that church planting non-compete is that they said the quiet part out loud. You aren’t supposed to say that church is really a business and that church compete with each other to steal sheep. As readers of this blog know, however, this is exactly how it works. The admission that the mega church crowd sees opening a new church as synonymous with opening up a new McDonalds is FANTASTIC.

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  70. Ricco: The admission that the mega church crowd sees opening a new church as synonymous with opening up a new McDonalds is FANTASTIC.

    Such church plants are essentially franchises, with the franchise-owners (mega pastors) profiting by more giving-units in the pew. The Christian Industrial Complex is a pyramid scheme.

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  71. Samuel Conner: I think that the NT writers would be dismayed by most of what they see in the weekly gatherings of present day churches. The closest NT parallel to present day practice might be the very beginning of the Jerusalem church, where large numbers of new converts were being catechized. But another feature of the Jerusalem church, the radical sharing of possessions with needy believers, is deprecated in our day in favor of funding the local hyper-apostle’s “vision” (the financial details of which may be “not for public consumption”).

    I would add that in the early days, there was no such thing as a ‘bible’ that every believer could be given and sent home to read. I was necessary for someone who knew, and somewhat understood, the teachings of The Law and of Jesus to present and explain them to ‘the masses’. Yet, even then, Paul commended his listeners who, by that time must had some form of written scripture (Old Testament), for studying to see if what he said was actually held up by scripture. Nowhere do we see Paul browbeating his listeners into mindlessly accepting whatever he or other ‘annointed ones’ taught, but reminding them that they had access to the Spirit of Truth.

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  72. Ricco: The admission that the mega church crowd sees opening a new church as synonymous with opening up a new McDonalds is FANTASTIC.

    I appreciate the pun of the MacDonalds’ being concerned about a new ‘McDonalds’ in the neighborhood. 😉

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  73. Samuel Conner: But another feature of the Jerusalem church, the radical sharing of possessions with needy believers, is deprecated in our day in favor of funding the local hyper-apostle’s “vision” (the financial details of which may be “not for public consumption”).

    I believe Ananias and Sapphira were from the church in Jerusalem. My earlier comment about them ended up in the long line at Arrivals, so I’ll take the liberty of putting it here:

    A few scholars believe this was a cautionary tale of m urd3r. Assuming this is so, was it meant to intimidate others into giving, or frighten them into being honest? Either way, it strikes me as a tale that can be used to manipulate. If it were ever preached in my church during a stewardship campaign, I’d probably leave town.

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  74. Friend: I believe Ananias and Sapphira were from the church in Jerusalem. My earlier comment about them ended up in the long line at Arrivals, so I’ll take the liberty of putting it here:

    A few scholars believe this was a cautionary tale of m urd3r. Assuming this is so, was it meant to intimidate others into giving, or frighten them into being honest? Either way, it strikes me as a tale that can be used to manipulate. If it were ever preached in my church during a stewardship campaign, I’d probably leave town.

    I agree with your reaction. The thing that specifically troubles me is that I have heard the Acts 2/Acts 4 texts’ references to sacrificial giving used to justify appeals for building expansion funding, which strikes me as a grievous misuse of these texts. The congregation I am thinking of had a voluntary mercy fund, but it was not well subscribed given the size of the group. Given the extensive NT teaching on “one another”, it was painful and at times exasperating to hear “fund the expansion plans” portrayed as “the will of God.”

    What was important to the NT writers does not seem to be that important to leaders in our day.

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  75. TS00: I would add that in the early days, there was no such thing as a ‘bible’ that every believer could be given and sent home to read. I was necessary for someone who knew, and somewhat understood, the teachings of The Law and of Jesus to present and explain them to ‘the masses’. Yet, even then, Paul commended his listeners who, by that time must had some form of written scripture (Old Testament), for studying to see if what he said was actually held up by scripture. Nowhere do we see Paul browbeating his listeners into mindlessly accepting whatever he or other ‘annointed ones’ taught, but reminding them that they had access to the Spirit of Truth.

    Heartily agreed.

    My knowledge of church history is not great, but I have the impression that one of the trends in the post-apostolic period was a progressive weakening of the idea of direct Spirit ministry in the churches and the concretization of human intermediation in the form of approved agents of ecclesial hierarchy.

    Of course, direct personal access to the Scriptures coupled with a strong confidence that one’s ideas about what they mean (strengthened by a confidence that the Spirit is at work) could and at times surely does lead to trouble. So it may be that a certain irreducible amount of chaos in the churches is inevitable. But there seems to be an awful lot of chaos in our day.

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  76. Samuel Conner: The congregation I am thinking of had a voluntary mercy fund, but it was not well subscribed given the size of the group.

    Humdrum worldly precautions help keep the church honest. A proposed annual budget should disclose every penny. The whole congregation should vote on the budget in an open annual meeting. If the church pays out many millions in salaries, and gives $100 to the food bank, people will notice a discrepancy.

    This assumes people are not brainwashed into venerating the clergy. South Carolina pastor John Gray, of something actually called the Relentless Church, recently invited needy people to take money out of the offering baskets—questionable generosity, in my view—and then, two weeks later, bragged about buying his wife a Lamborghini for their eighth anniversary. (Hallmark says the eighth is for giving pottery or bronze.)

    After pushback, Gray protested that the money had come from wise investments: “‘The stories that I hear, and I’ve tried to not listen to it, but one of them is, “pastor buys his wife, you know, this expensive car,”‘ Gray said. ‘First of all, it wasn’t a pastor that bought the car. It was a husband that bought the car. Get that in your spirit.'”

    Gray also said, “I do, however, see something wrong with people who will p imp the church and p imp people and manipulate emotions to enrich themselves … That I do have a problem with.” Gray is also an associate pastor for Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.

    Is there a meter that would register this level of gaslighting?

    https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-pastor-on-200K-Lamborghini-gift-It-13468859.php

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  77. Friend:

    This assumes people are not brainwashed into venerating the clergy.

    People are social beings and participation in any group is going to shape one’s thinking. Add on top of that weekly indoctrination, and on top of that the asserted divine authority of the teaching, and perhaps for icing the threat of divine disapproval or public censure; it takes a very strong-minded person to not succumb to the group-think.

    That alone might be a strong argument for not affiliating with large groups. Those are also the kind that are most attractive for leaders who want to harvest a good living from the group.

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  78. Samuel Conner: I have heard the Acts 2/Acts 4 texts’ references to sacrificial giving used to justify appeals for building expansion funding, which strikes me as a grievous misuse of these texts.

    I agree. Our town has several old churches listed as historic sites. In asking members for money, most churches do a good job of distinguishing the need to feed the hungry from the need to repair a slate roof. People know what fund they are giving to, and how much the fund has increased or decreased since the previous year.

    Zoning boards make sure our old churches keep looking like churches, instead of morphing into night clubs. When churches seek building permits, government requires them to bring old facilities into compliance with fire code, disability access, square footage per pupil, etc. This drives up costs, but external pressures actually help church leaders prioritize building plans and even preserve their traditional role in the community. I think our local situation echoes Romans 13:1-7, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities…”

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  79. Friend: A few scholars believe this was a cautionary tale of murder.

    Well, that’s a stretch of that Bible passage (Acts 5). Proof once again that scholars are overrated! Scripture is clear that Ananias and Sapphira “tested” the Holy Spirit and paid the price for it “and great fear and awe gripped the whole church, and all who heard about these things.” A dose of great fear and awe of God would do the 21st century church a heap of good … we sure are testing the Creator these days … we just don’t have the reverence for God, love for Jesus, or respect in the power of the Holy Spirit as we ought.

    Friend: intimidate others into giving … can be used to manipulate. If it were ever preached in my church during a stewardship campaign, I’d probably leave town.

    Yep, head for the hills! Control, manipulation, and intimidation are not fruit of the Spirit. If they can scare money out of your pocket, they can darn near get you do anything.

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  80. Samuel Conner: Heartily agreed.

    My knowledge of church history is not great, but I have the impression that one of the trends in the post-apostolic period was a progressive weakening of the idea of direct Spirit ministry in the churches and the concretization of human intermediation in the form of approved agents of ecclesial hierarchy.

    Of course, direct personal access to the Scriptures coupled with a strong confidence that one’s ideas about what they mean (strengthened by a confidence that the Spirit is at work) could and at times surely does lead to trouble. So it may be that a certain irreducible amount of chaos in the churches is inevitable. But there seems to be an awful lot of chaos in our day.

    Except that the Scriptures as we know them did not even *exist* in the immediate post-Apostolic period. The Canon of Scripture was not established until the Fourth century, at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. Before that, there was a *lot* of dispute about which books should be included and which excluded. As late as the early fourth century, according to church historian Eusebius, many bishops did not want to include Revelation. Jude and a few other books also had their detractors.

    Jesus founded a Church. Not a Book.

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  81. Max: Such church plants are essentially franchises, with the franchise-owners (mega pastors) profiting by more giving-units in the pew. The Christian Industrial Complex is a pyramid scheme.

    I’ve always wondered what the mega-pastor’s cut is from the pew serfs at the plant, and if so, how big a piece of the action does he get?
    I keep conjuring up scenes from a Scorsese dago-mob flick.

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  82. Wow.
    No wonder Driscoll had no trouble abandoning the disaster he caused in Seattle and all his responsibility concerning it. He knew he could count on McDonald to help him get a fresh start somewhere else.
    I wish that people would quit supporting these circus wolves.

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  83. Samuel Conner: What was important to the NT writers does not seem to be that important to leaders in our day.

    Therein lies much of the problem with the 21st century church in America. Prayer is not important, repentance is not important, holiness is not important, etc.

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  84. Mara: No wonder Driscoll had no trouble abandoning the disaster he caused in Seattle and all his responsibility concerning it. He knew he could count on McDonald to help him get a fresh start somewhere else.

    Just as Mahaney knew he could count on his buds. When the SGM mess broke, he first fled to DC under Dever’s protection … then on to Louisville to be sheltered by Mohler. These boys stick together – they must have a blood pact to support each other to the bitter end, ignoring the concerns and warnings of watchmen on the wall.

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  85. “WORLD asked Harvest for a comment from Luke MacDonald: The church responded that the details of the conversation with Maldaner “are not a matter of public discussion and are covered in love.””

    My mind went to the Leah Remini show in A&E and how much this reply sounded like some of the cultish language given from Sci’s PR/legal team.

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  86. Nooo. Man who shoots at pictures of family and friends, to whom it never occurs that anyone would think that odd, has problems worse than anger.

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  87. Max,

    Shooting thru pics of the elders and their wives reveals a murderous intent of the heart. I wonder if he knows what the Bible says about murderers?

    Unreal.

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  88. Noevangelical: Shooting thru pics of the elders and their wives

    Horseshoes or croquet would have been more appropriate past-times for a minister and his family. But, I’m an old school fuddy-duddy. I don’t have a leather jacket or tattoos, not cool or culturally-relevant. I’m not mega-minded, with no desire for a stage, big bucks, and a mansion … so I don’t know how this new breed of preachers think. Punching holes through pics of a team of rivals must be OK in their strange world.

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  89. TS00: James MacDonald comes pretty close to inciting me to denounce Christianity altogether.

    For these guys, church is a business where they justify their success by how many souls they “win”. Because it’s not about making the world better, hey I just heard in a sermon that “the poor will always be with us” attributed to Jesus himself…it’s about the numbers and the metric for the numbers is the money.

    As to denouncing Christianity, I’m guessing you mean the institutions that represent it and not the faith itself. Apostasy if not for everyone and actually renouncing your belief takes a lot of thought and should not be done lightly.

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  90. Max,

    I think they are so far from Christ that this new breed of preachers doesn’t even know that doing something like this is wrong. I really don’t believe that these people are even Christians in the classical sense of the word. They obviously don’t follow Christ and they build organizations that are churches in name only.

    I think the “evangelical church” as a whole has morphed into that “great deception” that they always thought would come out of the world and preached against. They were the anointed ones who would lead people to the promised land. The reality is that they are cut from the same cloth as the false prophets of old, leading the Nation of Israel away from the One True God.

    It’s one story after another of greed, perversion, graft, and corruption with them. The name of Christ is blasphemed because of them and they don’t even know it.

    I wouldn’t want to be handcuffed to any of them when they die…

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  91. Noevangelical: Shooting thru pics of the elders and their wives reveals a murderous intent of the heart.

    As well as resembling a magickal working to put a death hex on those “elders and their wives”. Shoot or stab the image, and the person whose image it is takes the damage for real.

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  92. Max: These boys stick together – they must have a blood pact to support each other to the bitter end, ignoring the concerns and warnings of watchmen on the wall.

    Or they have blackmail info on each other.
    “If I Go Down, You’re Going Down With Me.”

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  93. Jack: For these guys, church is a business where they justify their success by how many souls they “win”.

    “Souls” (not people) are just the currency of Heaven, a sales record to be cashed in on J-Day.

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  94. Noevangelical: It’s one story after another of greed, perversion, graft, and corruption … The name of Christ is blasphemed …

    Does anyone want to join me in a New Year’s Resolution? Pray that God will shut down the carnival in the church.

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  95. Noevangelical,

    “I think they are so far from Christ that this new breed of preachers doesn’t even know that doing something like this is wrong.”
    +++++++++++++++

    the pastors of the churches i’ve attended in the last many years fit this description in part:

    they are completely unaware that some of what they do is wrong (exploitative, deceptive, manipulative, dishonest, cruel, inhumane,…)

    here is where it differs: they are excellent human beings, in whom God/Jesus/Holy Spirit’s influence and presence are observable.

    the pastors themselves are so deeply inside a belief system that was surreptitiously engineered by powerful individuals and groups to protect power and money, and to increase both.

    and for which basic principles of right/wrong, honest/dishonest, & human lives themselves are easily rationalized away in order to sacrifice.

    they are numb to it all. brainwashed (except without the spinning spirals in their eyes).

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  96. Max,

    Dear Almighty, Sovereign, Righteous, Eternal God,
    EL ROI,
    YAHWEH,
    ELOHIM…………………..

    We ask that you would please BLESS and protect Julie Roys and ALL those willing to confront EVILLLLLLLLLLL.
    Please intervene and stop the wicked ones……
    as You did with
    Goliath
    Jezebel
    Haman………..
    Lord, we thank you for what You are going to do.

    GOD+1=MAJORITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jeremiah 15:21
    I WILL DELIVER YOU out of the hand of the wicked,
    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

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  97. Max: Does anyone want to join me in a New Year’s Resolution? Pray that God will shut down the carnival in the church.

    It seems to me we confront two possibilities:

    1) The Church was a deceptive ‘institution of men’ created by Satan to deceive men from the start.
    2) The Church, in her endless iterations, has been repeatedly infiltrated by false shepherds.

    Many are appalled at the first possibility, as I once was. But I hasten to say that even if she was a false institution established to mislead and manipulate, God is greater and smarter than his enemy. Even a ‘false’ church would find it necessary to teach scripture and the gospel in order to be convincing, and I believe that many have heard the ‘good news’ through this institution, whatever the motives of some within her.

    Like many a dysfunctional family, it would have been so much better if things had been done properly, with less vice and abuse; yet, many survive, overcome and thrive, despite less than perfect circumstances.

    That said, I believe that at this point, scripture and the gospel message have been so distorted by most of what is called ‘Church’ that, even if people are drawn to God, they are frequently being harmed, and many are not being brought to spiritual maturity and wisdom.

    I honestly do not know if God wants to shut this carnival down, or simply expose it so that his people will come out her. Far be it from me to tear down that which God seeks to repair; yet, I am equally unwilling to cherish and defend that which is false and destructive, which God intends to destroy.

    I have grown weary and discouraged after years of looking for a healthy, functional church. One that is not legalistic and spiritually abusive, yet has a balanced approach to accepting people where they are without affirming all choices. I would love to once again have a community in which I could serve others and feel as if they would likewise have my back, should the need arise. And yet, my experience over the last few decades has led me to believe that the costs are too great. I simply refuse to give up my essential self, my deeply personal relationship with God, in order to not be alone.

    My prayer, today and very day, is that God will have mercy on us and soon save us out of this vast deception, this falsely concocted reality of a world that is all we have ever known. Centuries of mass deceptions, wars and strategies to oppress, rob and destroy have left us incapable of even imagining what a healthy, functional church or world would look like.

    Please have mercy on us, dear God, and show us what we can do, right now, to ease the suffering that so many endure. Open our eyes, and shine a light upon our path. May we present ourselves to be your hands and feet, to show love, justice and mercy in a world that is brimming with unchecked evil.

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  98. BTW, On Point (radio talk show) had a segment on the SBC and racism this morning, and the featured guest was none other than Dr. Albert Mohler. What a smooth talking devil he is! I’d never actually heard him speak before. He’s nothing but a politician. Someone would call in with a very critical question, and after making some suitable noises, he would address something totally unrelated. The SBC is occupied territory, as CS Lewis might say.

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  99. There are going to be a lot more people telling their stories of spiritual abuse at HBC now that the floodgates have opened and James is reacting by cancelling speaking engagements.

    I still think that there is something not adding up with the youth director, sexual exploitation case, and the lawsuits were filed almost on the same day as the guy’s arrest. I’ve read that there is a whistleblower working through it legally (because it deals with a DCFS case) to go public with mishandling, cover-up, and lies to protect the brand. That would take this to a whole ‘nutha level.

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  100. ION: Scotland’s transport infrastructure

    Scotrail regret to announce that the entire physical rail network has vanished into thin air in defiance of all known physics, metaphysics and religious creeds. Station buildings have, for the foreseeable future, assumed the form of pear trees and timetables will be replaced by custard.

    This is due to a shortage of train crew.

    #AngryAndBitter???HeckYes

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  101. Max: James MacDonald “is stepping away from all outside speaking engagements for a season” …

    … For everything there is a season … a time … to speak.

    The time for Mr MacDonald to speak would be…















    … never mind.

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  102. TS00,

    My interpretation is that in our lifetimes, the churches of north america (I only have knowledge of a segment of evangelical protestantism, so that qualifies everything) have undergone the transformation described in Eric Hoffer’s famous aphorism that ‘every great cause starts as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

    There are still many thoroughly, or at least reasonably, wholesome smaller groups, I’m sure, but these might be under a lot of pressure as “bad religion drives out good.”

    Gather a small group of friends to pray for each other and for the wider world. That’s more or less how “the Church” started at the beginning, shortly after Jesus’ ascension. Perhaps it’s not a bad model to look back to.

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  103. roebuck,

    Headless Unicorn Guy: Or they have blackmail info on each other.
    “If I Go Down, You’re Going Down With Me.”

    roebuck: This. I think they’ve all got something on each other, and have instituted a kind of deal, omerta, or something.
    +++++++++++++++++

    oh, let joy be unconfined! this sounds JUST like Jesus!

    my, how they’re doin it for Jesus and for His fame. look at em go!

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  104. Logan Frisco: The rats are jumping ship. COO Scot Milholland is leaving Harvest and moving back to Texas – he just listed his home for sale for over $800,000
    https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/6N729-Old-Homestead-Rd-Saint-Charles-IL-60175/4654157_zpid/

    Just from looking at the thumbnail, that $800 grand “PRIVATE Estate” looks pretty high up the McMansion scale:
    * Overlarge roof with overly-complex roofline — mixture of gable and hipped, with cascading gables, overly-busy trim, and lotsa little dormers.
    * Inconsistent windows.
    * Inconsistent wall surfacings.
    * SIX bedrooms, SEVEN bathrooms, 5500 Sq Ft (= six staff to maintain), SIX-car garage, on a Two Acre (one Hectare) “PRIVATE Estate”.
    * Sprawling floor plan to maximize the apparent size, at the expense of heating efficiency in an Illinois winter. (This thing’s gonna take a LOT of heating/cooling life support, and there’s no solar panels to offset the power requirements.)
    * Loop driveway/motor court (with only four cars’ worth of garages — plural — visible; where’s the other two?

    Just from that amount of conspicuous consumption bling, I’d expect it to be made entirely from built-to-flip particle board & Styrofoam and have crystal chandeliers in all the bathrooms. As the McMansion Hell website put it: “Yes. We’re RICH. How Ever Could You Tell?”

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  105. elastigirl:
    and when will they stop using biblical-sounding prepositions and pronouns in casual parlance.

    If they grew up speaking (and thinking in) Christianese, probably never. It’s become what’s normal.

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  106. elastigirl: what bugs me is how disingenuous professional christians are. you can say it’s all about Jesus and for his fame.

    “For ye devour widows and orphans, and for justification make long prayers…”
    — some Rabbi from Nazareth

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  107. elastigirl: …when will they stop using biblical-sounding prepositions and pronouns in casual parlance.

    Strictly speaking, that would be Tudor-sounding prepositions and pronouns, rather than biblical-sounding ones. History has confused the two.

    But I’m nit-picking. I know what you meant…

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  108. Max:
    James MacDonald “is stepping away from all outside speaking engagements for a season (including Pastors Conference 2019)”
    https://twitter.com/SBCPastorsConf/status/1074719396600406016

    Good decision.It’s not an appropriate time for MacDonald to be speaking at a pastors conference on “Kingdom Character.”

    For everything there is a season … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

    There’s that “season” word again. Why does it make me gag?

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  109. TS00: I have grown weary and discouraged after years of looking for a healthy, functional church. One that is not legalistic and spiritually abusive, yet has a balanced approach to accepting people where they are without affirming all choices.

    If I understand your meaning, that’s hard to do without excluding someone in the extended family. Some churches live and let live, just not getting into people’s private behavior unless it is abusive or criminal. They get accused of not upholding standards, whereas the standards vary remarkably over space and time. A lot of couples don’t “wait for marriage,” and some churches see the wisdom of scheduling their weddings when requested. Sometimes two men are legally married. Sometimes a woman does not feel sinful about terminating a pregnancy that resulted from ra pe. Should all be welcomed? How much should a church challenge, and how much should it accept? How much discomfort can each of us stand? Military chaplains are quite good about meeting people where they are, but established churches are different from base chapels and aircraft carriers.

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  110. Re

    In a phone interview with WORLD, MacDonald said there was no correlation between the point values and he and Kathy’s “value and appreciation for those people.”

    Though he admitted shooting at the target with a pellet pistol with his wife and kids, MacDonald said it was “all in good fun,”…

    How does MacDonald feel about the idea of people getting toilet paper with his face printed on each square?
    All in good love and fun, so it’s okay?

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  111. Daisy: Though he admitted shooting at the target with a pellet pistol with his wife and kids, MacDonald said it was “all in good fun,”…

    They’ve lived in Chicago too long. There’s nothing funny about such behavior … it is sick.

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  112. FW Rez: he endorses MacDonald “Thankful for this brother, and he has my prayers as he focuses upon his own local church ministry.” … When will they ever learn, when will they…. ever learn.

    Organizers of the SBC Pastors Conference are primarily New Calvinists … they stick together … dudebros forever.

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  113. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    It’s a pretty nice house on some acreage. I have a sneaking suspicion that there will soon be 6 or 7 of these Harvet pastor “McMansions” on the market. The barn is burning and the vipers are scattering.

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  114. Re: “season”. This word was used multiple times by the former staff members of Willow Creek. The word suggests something that cycles ones way and is passively accepted. In fact, one can be convinced that the “season” is God’s doing and will eventually result in growth and a deeper experience of God. Perhaps, ample material for a new book will be acquired during the “season”. Mac, BH, Heather L, et al find this word much more acceptable than saying, “I’ve created a big ol mess”.

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  115. Headless Unicorn Guy: “For ye devour widows and orphans, and for justification make long prayers…”

    Or tear gas em’ just down the 15 at San Ysidro.
    Or let a 7 year old girl die in custody with no medical attention…

    Not a peep outta’ any of the stars in the Southern Cal. fundagelical firmament…

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  116. Friend,

    Friend, I won’t pretend I have answers. I have very dear friends – sincere believers – who believe very strongly and directly opposite one another about important issues. At the very least, I do not want to be compelled to adopt either of their opinions, and vocally so. I do not wish to be told I must hold strident ‘pro-life’ posters, nor that I must wear rainbow sashes to sing in the church choir. Maybe it’s just a cop out, but I think we have been so messed up in our thinking for so long, there is no easy solution to the quagmire of moral confusion we are currently in. So, yeah, if the ‘you’re in’ and ‘you’re out’ guard at the church door is what really matters most, I probably will not ever feel comfortable there.

    I am willing to have conversations, to be sympathetic to others’ beliefs, opinions and personal struggles, even if I do not share them. I desire to be as patient and gentle with others’ ‘idols’ and blind spots as God has been, and continues to be with opening my eyes to my own. And I will ever strive to keep love as my motivation, rather than give way to ignorance, hatred or fear.

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  117. TS00: So, yeah, if the ‘you’re in’ and ‘you’re out’ guard at the church door is what really matters most, I probably will not ever feel comfortable there.

    I am willing to have conversations, to be sympathetic to others’ beliefs, opinions and personal struggles, even if I do not share them. I desire to be as patient and gentle with others’ ‘idols’ and blind spots as God has been, and continues to be with opening my eyes to my own. And I will ever strive to keep love as my motivation, rather than give way to ignorance, hatred or fear.

    Beautiful.

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  118. LeRoy: one can be convinced that the “season” is God’s doing and will eventually result in growth and a deeper experience of God

    Be careful little ears what you hear.

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  119. Disclaimer: All my comments regarding James MacDonald were given in my humble opinion, some subjective others objective. My concern rests solely for the Body of Christ and not with the ministries of mere men.

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  120. Max: They’ve lived in Chicago too long.

    “Chicago Rules: They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. They send one of you to the morgue, you send a dozen of them.”
    — The Untouchables

    (And according to Herbert Asbury’s history of the Chicago underworld (“Gem of the Prairie”, companion volume to “Gangs of New York”), that’s no exaggeration.)

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  121. TS00: At the very least, I do not want to be compelled to adopt either of their opinions, and vocally so. I do not wish to be told I must hold strident ‘pro-life’ posters, nor that I must wear rainbow sashes to sing in the church choir.

    I completely agree with this. It seems like the polarization is snowballing out of control, faster and faster. The liberal denominations are now almost completely liberal, and the conservative denominations are completely conservative, which will make them continue to become more extreme and less balanced.

    I have no clue what the solution is other than individuals seeking to live in relationship with lots of different people.

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  122. Ricco,

    I want a place to go where we truly adore God. That we focus solely on His characteristics, were we worship without motives! No message filled with personal opinions or lists of what we should be doing or how we have failed. A place where we are literally in fall down awe of God. No name of a person is uttered, no cute sermon demonstrations. Where when something is spoken it is sorely centered on God!! A place where the Holy Spirit is known.

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  123. Ann,

    sounds like just praying together. A song here, a song there, as they spontaeously come up.

    (that’s what i do with some friends every week. it’s terrific!)

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  124. Ricco,

    “The liberal denominations are now almost completely liberal”
    ++++++++++++++++

    hmmm… i’m trying to picture something that is only partially liberal.

    what does it mean to be almost completely liberal?

    if it’s not completely liberal, there are presumably conservative people or views or apsects that are part of it.

    liberal ideas may be liberal by degrees.

    however, it seems to me to a conservative christian, something is either conservative or liberal. nothing in between.

    and i simply cannot fathom a conservative christian being able to endure being part of a church/denomination that has been embossed (sometimes by others) with the label “Liberal”.

    so….. just trying to sort this out in my mind…

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  125. elastigirl,

    I conceptualize it as conservatives want to preserve the status quo while liberals want to change things. This is an overbroad, 50,000 foot perspective. When those two groups get polarized, the conservative side gets tyrannical and oppressive and the liberal side gets chaotic and unpredictable. I think we can see that in extremely conservative and extremely liberal churches. We somehow need to find a way to keep conservatives and liberals in relationship and talking to each other

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  126. FREEATLAST: https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/world-investigation-alleges-ongoing-culture-of-deception-at-harvest-bible-chapel-megachurch/

    RELEVANT MAGAZINE

    From the article: “The original director of Harvest Bible Fellowship Gordon Zwirkoski claimed MacDonald nurtures “a spirit of fear in the staff, almost like a dread.””

    Since God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), did God give us MacDonald? TWW has reported on several “men of God” who control their elders and congregations by manipulation and intimidation. Good Lord! Enough is enough! The children of God deserve better!

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  127. elastigirl: and i simply cannot fathom a conservative christian being able to endure being part of a church/denomination that has been embossed (sometimes by others) with the label “Liberal”.

    Several of the mainline Protestant denominations have both conservative and liberal members who sing in the choir, cook for the hungry, support the preschool and whatnot. If you only see them on TV, you’d think they do nothing all day but fight about ordaining teh gayz. In real life, they live and let live, and work through any discomfort either privately or through some astute teaching.

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  128. Max: Well, that’s a stretch of that Bible passage (Acts 5). Proof once again that scholars are overrated!

    Devil’s advocate here. Is it a stretch, or is it figurative language more in keeping with the Old Testament? Even in our day, people in some parts of the world will ki ll someone over a heinous act, and then say God kil led the person. If only Ananias died—of terror—the story would be less disturbing to me. But Sapphira died too. The story is out of keeping with the other supernatural happenings in Christian Scripture.

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  129. Friend,
    In this passage, we get a glimpse of God as Judge. We will all experience that firsthand some day. We also see that there was power in the mouth of the apostles. The organized church today is largely a thing of our making; there’s not much power resting on it.

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  130. Friend,

    “In real life, they live and let live, and work through any discomfort either privately or through some astute teaching.”
    +++++++++++++++

    that’s great to hear. i imagine all this quietly flies under the radar.

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  131. I truly am concerned about this church. My sister has attended this church for years.
    I have witnessed a change in personality. Very legalistic thinking. I asked if this church in Aurora could speak to my adopted teen boy because he had legitimate questions of faith. He was turned away because he was not a member. What a horrible answer for my son who was searching. Very uncaring. They guilt ed my sister into counseling a woman. My sister did not feel comfortable with the request. They just guilted her. Uncaring about my sisters true feelings about the request. What kind of church puts into there statement of beliefs that they do not believe in outside counseling but want people to take care of each other within the church. That belief sounds incredibly dangerous to those who suffer emotionally or mentally.

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  132. Ricco,

    “We somehow need to find a way to keep conservatives and liberals in relationship and talking to each other”
    ++++++++++++++++

    Thanks for the reply. Well, they need each other to balance each other out.

    i remember watching a documentary about Chicago a long time ago. Can’t remember much about it, but this stuck in my mind:

    A story was being told about Chicago from many decades go (early 20th century? late 19th century?). The opera house / concert hall / theater in Chicago was very prominent, an important part of the city. it catered to the privileged and wealthy. People in the lower classes were prohibited from attending in some way (can’t remember). Something more than just the expense of tickets.

    Democrat activists or leaders were able to bring about change so that all citizens were able to go. So that everyone could enjoy it.

    it really impacted me. how very right it was, and how great that people had the determination and courage of their convictions to be vocal and get involved to bring about change like this.

    i remember thinking at the time, how necessary it is for conservatives and liberals to co-exist and work together, to bring balance to what each is up to.

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  133. FREEATLAST: RADIO INTERVIEW
    https://t.co/v40LwzVmb4
    JULIE ROYS
    WYLL 1160 AM
    STARTS AT AROUND MINUTE 25:30

    MacDonald and friends are trying to reduce Sister Roys to an “accuser of the brethren.” But, she is truly a watchman on the wall. With cyberspace allowing the church at large to look closely at wayward ministers and ministries these days, the brethren across America need to be on guard. Watchmen are standing ready to inform and warn … they will do their job to protect the Body of Christ. If they sound the trumpet and it is ignored, the hedge goes down … the counterfeit wins and the genuine suffers.

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  134. elastigirl: i imagine all this quietly flies under the radar.

    Some of it does. Sometimes, if an annual or triennial meeting is going to face down a hot-button social issue, clergy will take time in advance to discuss it with each of the little groups within the congregation. People are heard, they get to blurt a little, and then they adjust. Works better than decrees from the pulpit or giving these topics the silent treatment.

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  135. Jan N Hope: ishy,
    Is this why this church h does not approve of psychological help outside of the church? So odd to me.

    Not odd to me.
    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!

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  136. elastigirl: i remember thinking at the time, how necessary it is for conservatives and liberals to co-exist and work together, to bring balance to what each is up to.

    Sound thinking.
    Balance is the very essence of working together.
    Our very survival as a species depends on it:

    Two people drift in a lifeboat on an uncharted sea.

    One says, “There! I see an island. Our best chance is to go ashore, build a shelter, and await rescue.”

    The other says, “No, we must go farther out to sea and hope to find the shipping lanes. That is our best chance.”

    Unable to agree, the two fight, the lifeboat capsizes, and they drown.

    This is the nature of humanity. Even if only two people are left in the entire universe, they will come to represent opposing factions.

    — Brian Herbert and Kevin J.Anderson —

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  137. Watch what you say about Stowell as he wanted his name removed from any dealings with this Harvest/ McDonald once he got wind of McDonalds sinful behavior. Stowell is a good Godly man who truly follows Gods word and true biblical preaching unwatered down.
    Not many preachers left like Stowell.

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  138. Tim W Callaway,

    That is funny! Amidst this misery, I appreciate your thoughts. Where would James’ sons be without their dad hand feeding them. Luke has the personality of a doorknob. Maybe they would be working at McDonald’s

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